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Liver fibrosis

Liver scarring

Liver fibrosis is the scarring that occurs from the liver’s response to injury, which over time can lead to cirrhosis.

About liver fibrosis

Fibrosis is the formation of an abnormally large amount of scar tissue in the liver. It occurs when the liver tries to repair and replace damaged cells. The build-up of scar tissue can interfere with the flow of blood to the liver and stop it from functioning properly. Over time cirrhosis develops, which can lead to liver failure and liver cancer.

Need to know

  • Symptoms of liver fibrosis icon plus

    Fibrosis itself does not cause symptoms. Symptoms may result from the disorder causing fibrosis ‒ main causes are chronic hepatitis B and C, alcoholic liver disease (ALD) and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Also, if fibrosis progresses, cirrhosis may develop and this can cause complications (such as portal hypertension) that give rise to symptoms. Early symptoms of cirrhosis include:

    • tiredness and weakness
    • loss of appetite
    • nausea
    • tenderness in the liver area

    Later symptoms as the liver struggles to function include:

    • swelling of the legs, ankles and feet (oedema) or abdomen (ascites)
    • extreme fatigue
    • very rapid heartbeat
    • vomiting blood
     
  • Diagnosis icon plus

    Your consultant will discuss your symptoms with you and may recommend tests to aid diagnosis. Diagnosis is made through a combination of an assessment of your medical history, a physical examination, and:

    • Blood tests, commonly Liver Function Tests (LFT) that can measure levels of the liver enzymes alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) which are elevated during inflammation
    • Transient elastography (FibroScan) to measure scarring levels
    • A liver biopsy may be required, where a tiny piece of your liver is taken to determine the cause of fibrosis
    • An endoscopy to check for varices (abnormally dilated vessels) in the oesophagus or stomach which may rupture
     
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    If a diagnosis of liver fibrosis is confirmed, your consultant will discuss your treatment options with you, to determine the best approach. The aim is to treat the cause, which often stops or slows further scarring. Treatments include:

    • Weight loss and blood sugar control if you have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
    • Not drinking alcohol if you have alcoholic liver disease (ALD)
    • Antivirals in the case of chronic viral hepatitis
    • Corticosteroids or immunosuppressants in the case of autoimmune hepatitis

    A liver transplant is only recommended if other treatments are no longer helpful and your life is threatened by end stage liver disease.

     
Consultant with patient

Our consultants

From complex surgery to straightforward procedures, we provide exceptional care across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

Our facilities

From complex surgery to straightforward procedures, we provide exceptional care across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

  • facility-pgh-hero-579x579

    The Princess Grace Hospital

    42-52 Nottingham Place

    London W1U 5NY

    Appointments 020 3131 7216
    Enquiries 020 3130 6833

  • Wellington-south-hero-facility-582-582

    The Wellington Hospital

    Wellington Place

    London NW8 9LE

    Appointments 0207 483 5148
    Enquiries 020 3131 7478

  • London Bridge Hospital Facility

    London Bridge Hospital

    27 Tooley Street

    London

    SE1 2PR

    Appointments and Enquiries 020 7234 2009
    Imaging Appointments 020 7234 2773
    Switchboard 020 7407 3100

  • facility-HSC-flag-hero-582x582

    The Harley Street Clinic

    35 Weymouth Street

    London

    W1G 8BJ

    Appointments 020 7034 8181
    Enquiries 020 3131 7962

  • The Lister Hospital Facility

    The Lister Hospital

    Chelsea Bridge Road

    London

    SW1W 8RH

    Appointments 020 7811 4000
    Enquiries 020 3131 4978

  • The Portland Hospital Facility

    The Portland Hospital

    205 - 209 Great Portland Street

    London

    W1W 5AH

    Childrens enquiries 020 7390 8020
    Maternity enquiries 020 7390 6068
    Gynaecology enquiries 020 7390 6200

Request an appointment

We're happy to help you make an appointment with one of our experienced consultants.

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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